Carcinogens – a BBQ sauce?

One of the most carcinogenic (cancer causing) thing you can eat is burnt meat. Yes, that crispy outside of your steak is as likely to give you cancer than anything else you put in your mouth.

It makes sense if you think about it. Meat is made of exactly the same proteins and chemicals as our bodies. Cook the meat and they start to break down creating reactive molecules very similar to healthy ones in our bodies. The nasties in this case are heterocyclic amines (HCAs) – shown to cause cancer in rats and listed as a carcinogen by the US government in 2005.

However burnt meat doesn’t contain much of this material so you’d have to love your BBQ a lot to worry. In fact, on a summer day, the sun could be more carcinogenic than the lunch.



Filed under Household Science, Kitchen Science

9 responses to “Carcinogens – a BBQ sauce?

  1. I have heard – and I am perfectly prepared to accept this as an urban myth – that beer contains chemicals that mitigate the carcinogenic effects of charred meat.

    I think I’ll go and spend some time on Google or Snopes & see if I can verify the story …

  2. Well, that was quick. There’s a layman’s summary (useful, as I are won), & further reading, here:

    After a few more days of giving the mice HCA-supplemented diets, Sakae Arimoto-Kobayashi and his colleagues removed key organs and scanned their cells for HCA-induced DNA changes known as adducts. These genetic changes, in which bits of a chemical inappropriately bind to DNA, often serve as a first step in the development of cancer.

    As expected, both HCAs triggered adducts. Trp-P-2’s adducts appeared in the liver while those caused by MeIQx developed not only there, but also in the lungs and kidneys. However, beer diminished by some 40 to 75 percent the number of HCA adducts that formed, depending on the type of tissue and quantity of beer ingredients ingested, the researchers report in the Feb. 9 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Good news for beer drinkers: Both light-colored lager and a darker stout proved protective.

  3. Hmm… I will do some researching into the protective effects of beer and get back to you. Watch this space!

  4. I would like to see a continuation of the topic

  5. alfreem

    Many people use the bbq especially on warm evenings or weekends, it has become extreemly popular and I don’t think I know anyone that does not have one. I am a great lover of the old bbq I recently bought a new Buschbeck bbq, and use it as often as I can Not every day but at least once a week), I really enjoy having a meal in the garden and I also like my meat welldone I am I in danger?.

  6. dr. ira gruber

    barbecue is an excelent way of getting cancer exposure like the sun like suntanning damage like drinking alcohol causes cirrohis. americans cannot control themselves they are all in a funk. or as bill maher might say they never learn the most most brilliant populacein the world and they still cannot connect the dots. did george wsashington barbecue never

  7. saumya

    beer does not promote the growth of carcinogens right?

  8. Pingback: An Overview Of Beer Ingredients | Homebrew beer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s